Getting out the word of God

Christians and rock music haven’t always been happy bedfellows. When rock and roll transformed the world’s musical landscape from the 1950s the reaction of many Christians was to oppose it. This was somewhat ironic, as early American rock was often influenced by gospel music, particularly the recordings coming out of the Afro-American communities.

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By the 1960s Christian musicians were challenging this view, creating their own sounds and in doing so proving that rock and roll is not necessarily part of an unholy trio whose other two members are sex and drugs. In 1969 the oft-described ‘father’ of Christian rock music, Larry Norman, released the first commercial Jesus album Upon This Rock. A song on this ground-breaking album is straight to the point, ‘Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?’

Contemporary Christian rock, as well as country and Southern gospel can be heard on our own homegrown Christian community radio station, Rhema 99.7FM. The station broadcasts full-time with their wide range of programs including: inspirational true life stories, bible readings, family counselling, spiritual messages and mixes these with practical advice on job hunting, real estate and finance. The playlist is equally diverse with the station putting to air everything from edgy contemporary to hymns of praise to ‘the hot 25’.

Rhema is run by the Newcastle Christian Broadcasters Limited, a non-denominational home missionary organization open to all Christians and supported across the spectrum of Christian denominations. It all began back in 1985 when a small group of Christians interested in setting up a local radio station met to form a group called Radio Rhema. The name was chosen as ‘rhema’ in Greek means ‘the spoken word of God’; the station was also named after a Christian radio network in New Zealand which broadcasts under the same name.

They built offices and studios and two years later the first temporary broadcast went to air. Rhema occupies the top storey of a building in the West End, its offices and studio are accessed via steep stairs and as I headed up I couldn’t turn off that Led Zeppelin song in my head and hummed ‘And I’m climbing a stairway to heaven’.

Rhema state that their desire is to ‘promote ideals which are good and worthwhile to the whole community’, wishing to ‘comfort those in need and share the joy of Jesus Christ with all who will listen’ and believing that ‘a Christian radio transmission can change the spiritual climate over the city and release a force of good over the airwaves’.

The station communicates the love of Jesus not just generally, but specifically, when every weeknight at 11.00pm they broadcast a prayer for Newcastle and the Hunter. Do you have a particular wish for our city, something which needs the power of prayer? Tune in – 99.7FM.

Rhema 99.7FM, 1st floor, 13 Denison Street, Newcastle West. Phone: 49622338. Email:, listen to programs at and stream from their website:

Follow Rhema 99.7FM on Twitter and Facebook.

Kimberly O’Sullivan

Have you chosen the West End as your home or as the perfect place to run your business? Do you have a West End tale which deserves a wider audience? What inspires and infuriates you about the West End? If you have a story to tell I would love to talk to you! Here’s how to find me:; 0413 250 155.



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